Did you know millions of people suffer from snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)? It is estimated that at least 75% of the population suffer from these problems. Obstructive sleep apnea not only causes fatigue and severe daytime drowsiness, but many other problems such as poor memory, clouded intellect, personality changes, irritability, decreased sex drive, impotence, morning headaches and many health problems. Obstructive sleep apnea contributes to cardiovascular disease, as well as conditions such as hypertension, stroke, heart attacks and heart disease.
Many studies show that those with OSA have a 15% higher rate for health problems as well as a 15% higher mortality rate. Those with OSA are three times more likely to be in a car accident.
Snoring and Obstructive sleep apnea not only affects health and quality of life, but also severely affects a spouse or significant other’s life. Many studies show that spouses slept an additional 62 minutes and their quality of life increased significantly after their partner was treated.
What causes snoring and OSA? During normal sleep we breathe air in through our mouth and nose into our airway. If the muscles of the tongue and palate fall back into the airway, they can constrict the airway or completely close it off. When constricted the air causes the muscles to vibrate, thus causing snoring. When the airway is completely closed off, this causes an apnea event to occur (stop breathing) which causes your brain to awake you to start breathing again. Thus someone’s quality of sleep is greatly affected by these continuous awakenings or arousals throughout the night.
The first and most effective treatment for OSA is a CPAP machine. Unfortunately many people cannot tolerate wearing their CPAP and end up doing nothing to help their condition. Oral appliance therapy is an alternative to CPAP. An oral appliance is a small plastic device that fits over the teeth, just like an orthodontic retainer or mouth guard. The appliance is worn in the mouth during sleep to prevent the soft tissue of the throat from collapsing and obstructing the airway. Oral appliances work by slightly advancing the lower jaw which in turn moves the base of the tongue forward and opens the airway to allow improved breathing and reduced snoring and apneas during sleep.